Maria Sharapova's ban from tennis has been cut from two years to 15 months, the Court of Arbitration for Sport has ruled. Sharapova, 29, was handed a 24-month ban after testing positive for banned substance meldonium at the Australian Open.

The reduction sees her eligible to return to action on 26 April 2017, with a comeback at the French Open likely.

The five-time grand slam winner immediately announced her intention to challenge an "unfairly harsh" sanction ban handed down by the International Tennis Federation in June but the lengthy process saw her miss most of the 2016 season, including the Rio 2016 Olympics.

Sharapova appealed on the grounds she had been taking meldonium since 2006 to treat a heart condition and was unaware it had been added to the banned substance list at the start of the year.

Sharapova argued she had "no significant fault" in her positive test, whichwas upheld by CAS, although they found she "bore some degree of fault for which a sanction of 15 months is appropriate".

A statement from Sharapova read: "I've gone from one of the toughest days of my career last March when I learned about my suspension to now, one of the my happiest days, as I found out I can return to tennis in April.

"In so many ways, I feel like something I love was taken away from me and it will feel really good to have it back. Tennis is my passion and I have missed it. I am counting the days until I can return to the court."

Her statement also included a thinly-veiled attack on the ITF for handing down a two-year ban in the first place.

" I have learned from this, and I hope the ITF has as well. CAS concluded that "the Panel has determined it does not agree with many of the conclusions of the [ITF] Tribunal...'

"I have taken responsibility from the very beginning for not knowing that the over-the-counter supplement I had been taking for the last ten years was no longer allowed. But I also learned how much better other federations were at notifying their athletes of the rule change, especially in Eastern Europe where Mildronate [meldonium] is commonly taken by millions of people.

"Now that this process is over, I hope the ITF and other relevant tennis anti-doping authorities will study what these other federations did, so that no other tennis player will have to go through what I went through."